When The Port Mann Bridge opened in British Columbia earlier this month, it was supposed to slash commuting times up to an hour.
But barely three weeks later the bridge has closed down when massive chunks of ice fell off the bridge’s high cables and plummeted onto drivers below – causing injuries and thousands of dollars worth of damage.
At ten lanes, the bridge is the widest in the world and the second longest in North America.
But outraged drivers are saying they’d rather have a leaner bridge without the hazards.
Real estate agent Simon Lu was caught in the assault of when a boulder of ice shattered his windshield.
The 31-year-old managed to get off the bridge without further incident.
Even British Columbia’s transportation minister, Mary Polak, slammed the bridge’s builders, Kiewit-Flatiron General Partnership, insisting ‘taxpayers will not be on the hook for this.’
‘We will not live with the bridge in that way,’ Mary Polak said in a news conference Thursday.
‘When you purchase a product in a store, when you build a bridge for $3.3 billion, you believe that it will work. You expect it will work. When it doesn’t work you seek for redress to that. You seek for someone to refund your money or you seek for someone to resolve the problem.’
Polak said snow and ice concerns were specifically mentioned as potential problems before the bridge was built and that the construction contract included specifications to address those very issues.
‘Clearly, what we saw yesterday shows that they did not meet those requirements,’ she said.
Kiewit-Flatiron General Partnership insisted it was working to solve the problem in a written public statement.
‘We’re very concerned about the recent weather issues impacting motorists on the Port Mann Bridge,’ said the statement from Thomas Janssen, director of external affairs for the company. ‘With the recent severe weather conditions, it’s evident there is an issue that needs to be closely reviewed and addressed.’
More than 100 insurance claims were filed by commuters after chunks of ice smashed down onto vehicles from the bridge’s suspension cables during a Wednesday snowstorm.
Two were injured and the bridge was closed for hours.
The Crown agency operating the bridge will pay the deductibles of drivers who’s cars were damaged on the bridge and tolls for anyone crossing between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday will be waived.
The 10-lane Port Mann Bridge took three years to construct at a cost of more than $3 billion.
Cold weather, humidity, precipitation, and wind all contributed to the ice formation on top of the cables.
After the ice bonds to the cold cables, high winds start a vibration on the cables that knocks the ice loose.
Adding to the disaster in Vancouver’s temperature fluctuations from cold to warm, causing ice to break off in heavy chunks while melting.
The bridge has now reopened to traffic but nothing has been done to prevent a repeat of Wednesday’s disaster if a severe winter storm hits.
Source: The Daily Mail